CAPTURING THE MOMENT: Centuries of the Passover Haggadah

Matzah - the bread of poverty

kids with matzah

Leaving Egypt in haste, the Israelites did not have time to let the leaven (a substance such as yeast) in their bread rise and had to take with them flat dry “Matzah” as food for the way. Since then, Jews are commanded to eat Matzah during Passover.  

An Israel Haggadah for Passover
Adapted by Meyer Levin
New York, H.N. Abrams [1970]

The Birds Head Haggadah

The Bird's Head Haggadah

The Birds Head Haggadah from the thirteenth century is the oldest complete Haggadah known and depicts all the Jewish characters with heads of birds—there is no agreed upon explanation for why. The scene depicted here describes the different stages of the preparation of the Matzah.

The Birds Head Haggadah
Southern Germany, thirteenth century
Manuscript held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Facsimile, Jerusalem: Tarshish Books, [1965]

The Rothschild Haggadah

The Rothschild Haggadah

The preparation of Passover includes removing all leaven from the home. The fifteenth-century Rothschild Haggadah shows a man using a feather and lit candle in search of breadcrumbs, followed by illustrations of the making of the Matzah. The opposite page shows a couple sitting at the table ready to celebrate the Seder.

The Rothschild Haggadah / A Passover compendium
 from the Rothschild Miscellany
Northern Italy, 1479
Manuscript held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Facsimile, London: Facsimile Editions, c. 2000

February 23, 2017 – June 11, 2017
On display in The Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery, Perkins Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina